Ah, charts with actual stats are so much nicer to look at.   The first bullpen report of the year was like reading Playboy in braile, ’cause technically we shouldn’t need both hands, but we do.  The cream is rising to the proverbial top when you look at the chart below.  The familiar names are settling in, and if you drafted some of them, or they have been mentioned in the closenado of 2014 for save chances, they probably are owned, were owned  or some semblance there in between.   Middle relievers are like that old cartoon Pound Puppies, yeah they are cute and good ‘n all, but they are still living in the pound in acartoon.  No homes to go to, no freedom…  Sad, but as kids we were fooled.  Relievers are much the same, they never really have a home unless we give them one.

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We are going to take a break from the closenado news to bring the middle-reliever news and updates for those of you that are in Holds and NSVH leagues. While it’s not as sexy as the closer news that you usually expect, it is still fundamental in forming a well-balanced pitching staff. It has been a bizarre season, as far as Holds go, and no one person is showing their stoutness and running away with being “that guy”.  The usual candidates are lying in the weeds [Ed. Note-- you haven't smoked it all?] waiting to jump out and show you how to make balloon animals. So here are some snippets that I’ve noticed so far this year, though the season is still short ‘n sweet. There’s a long ways to go my friends. So be patient when it comes to the dudes who pitch after the dudes, but before the dudes that really matter.

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The name says it all, it’s what everyone keeps asking for,  NSVH.  It sounds like a spin-off of CSI, or Law and Order.  Except with really geeky dudes who shouldn’t really have an actual head-shot of themselves for use as their avatar.  We know who they are, and pointing fingers isn’t polite unless it’s the one that I normally get from people at the retirement home I frequent for volunteer duties.  Much love Shady Acres.  So this week we delve into the numbers game, the ones that mimic me and steal my Nutella sandwich.  These projections are highly irregular and tougher than most other stats in the pretend game.  The fluctuation of personnel by teams is mind boggling and makes me look goofy.  So in the chart below I am giving you the top-60 NSVH chaps with some pertinent stats that help all.  During the year, I’ll get into more of the sustaining stats, but since we aren’t there yet, I can’t just make them up.  Those tendency stats that I am referring to (Inherited Runners, Inherited Runners Scored, and Appearances with Lead) are my way of determining both closer and set-up guy efficiency.  How they are used and when they are used.  So those that are looking forward to that, hooray for you.   So without further adieu, here are some projections for the top NSVH guys for this year.

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The first bullpen report of the year is always league-dependent, so read this with a grain of salt.  Some of the top-chaps will be and should be rostered in most normal scoring leagues, while some are strictly reserved for Holds only leagues.  For those of you with the ever trending upward Saves+Holds leagues (NSVH), (a trend I have tried for a few years that seems to work) the process isn’t really a groundbreaking formula where you need a calculator watch and/or an abacus to figure out.

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I remember reading the Cliff Notes for Gustave Flaubert’s masterpiece and thinking, “From the moment Cliff Notes was invented, no one has actually read a classic novel. Therefore, ergo, henceforth, vis-a-vis, if I wrote a Cliff Notes book about a book that doesn’t exist, I could invent a classic novel. I will call it ‘Uncle Fritter’ and have it take place during the 1908 World’s Fair.” These are the thoughts of someone who will one day run a fantasy baseball blog. Matt Dominguez is owned in 26% of ESPN leagues, which is absurd. Absurd, I tell ya! He has 19 homers and a .240 average. Look at Pablo Sandoval’s stats, okay, now look at Dominguez’s — now look at Sandoval — now Dominguez — Sandoval — Dominguez — dizzy yet? Look at Gyorko’s ownership (86%) and his stats vs. Dominguez. Since we’re all about the here and now at the end of the season, it doesn’t really matter what Dominguez has done previously. It’s about what he has done most recently — he has 4 homers in the last ten games and is hitting over .300 in the last week. If you’re struggling for power, I’d absolutely grab him. Anyway, here’s some more players to buy or sell this week in fantasy baseball:

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So I was semi-bored this week, only semi, because I am a guy and porn still does exist. I was looking at the save totals this year as compared to last year, so I went to my local library and to my surprise it still exists, although I had to google directions on how to get there. So, the numbers this year through Tuesday — that’s 8/26 for all of you keeping score on your watch calculator — are as follows: there have been 1971 games played, 1971 wins and losses (if they don’t equal then something is wrong) and the total saves for MLB to date is exactly 1,000. You’re asking yourself how does this help you? Well this is a numbers game where the games left play against you in order to move up in the standings. So, if save totals are averaging at 50.8% of the wins, and this number is fairly consistent (2012: 51.4, 2011: 51.1), and there are 459 (there are 2,430 wins and loses every year, minus rain outs) wins left to garner a save in, that gives you 233 saves left to collect in your league. That may look like a lot but you prolly only have anywhere between 2-4 closers on your roster, so the accumulation for your gain may be slim. Stick around for some opines on some closers, I can’t promise there won’t be anymore numbers though.

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Hot teams equal scorched buns, no that’s not right. Hot teams are where holds go to fall in love, it’s like the Sadie Hawkins dance or the Enchantment under-the-sea thingy. The ATL is hot for holds right now, win streaks are a harbinger of fantasy goodness. Stat wise, the team is 15-3 since the AS break, producing 2 guys with 7 holds — Jordan Walden and Luis Avilan (whose name sounds like the Feliz Navidad song if you sing it.) That’s a crazy amount for one guy, let alone 2 guys. To put that in better perspective, they Each (emphasis on each) have more Holds than 12 other teams. More than 3 freaking first place teams to make you feel better in case I missed your favorite tickle spot. I mean, Atl is looking awfully tough right now so why not get on the stats that mean something. Enjoy the week to come.

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Out of the fire and into the Frieri pan, or as the Sciosciapath would say, buffet Thursdays. Ernesto Frieri has imploded you ratios the past 10 days and has been put into a closer-by-committee type situation. This is ungood for fantasy purposes twofold; first no one wants to roster the remaining parts of the Angels bullpen, namely Dane de la Rosa or the like. Second, after he has taken a steaming pile of feces on your team, do you really want Frieri to remain. Well Daniel Bryan is currently a yes man so think of him on opposite day. The Angels best option to take the job is currently back in the rotation; Garret Richards was doing swell in the pen until the Angels were sucking fumes in the first 6 innings of games and needed some youthful infusion. So now we are stuck in a CBC holding pattern until Frieri figures his hiccups out or some one like “Chaka” Kohn or the loosely translated “damage of the rose” emerges. Stay tuned or don’t, I have plenty of Dipsy Doodles to occupy my time.

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So down goes a top ten guy in an off week where I talk about set-up guys. Jason Grilli is beset with a forearm strain and up steps the league leader in Holds, Mark Melancon. Melancon has been spooktacular this year, and if wasn’t owned prior to the injury then your league is hot garbage. Sorry, but truth is truth. So the pecking order in the ‘Burgh now reads like this, which really isn’t devoid of good RP this year. I see Tony Watson and Justin Wilson splitting the left-handed set-up duties and Bryan Morris and Vin Mazzaro to continue their RH dominance. If given the opportunity, Victor Black could be brilliant, so keep an eye on him. Not one guy is going to run away and garner the hold chances that Melancon has gotten to date this year so it is going to be a mish-mosh of hold chances. Also factor in that the Pirates are in some trade rumors for some end game help and the rosterability of all these guys is tough to call until we know how long Grilli is under the weather. Enjoy the week to come.

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So team success helps everything, from team building exercises to a secret program that siphons money into a bank account at fractions of a penny at a time. Whatever works, works, but at the end of the day the stats are what matters. Take for example the Texas Rangers’ bullpen. The trio of Neal Cotts, Tanner Scheppers and Jason Frasor are getting it done minus the flair. They have combined for 17 Holds in the last 30 days and are tied for the AL lead in Holds with 50. Earlier in the year, I was asked the best strategy for NSVH, and I said the best way is to grab a top 10 closer and 2 middle relievers from the same team. This is why this theory makes all the sense. Take a resurgent Cotts, who has dominated batters to a BAA of .187. “It’s Murda.” Thanks Ja Rule, for having nothing else to do. Throw in Scheppers and as of late a rejuvenated Frasor and you have a nice drunk punch of goodness for a Holds factory. Holds are a streaky stat, take a look at Mark Melancon, he is still leading MLB in holds only because he had 14 thru the first 30 days. The leader since then? Hmmm I betcha I just mentioned him above… Tanner Scheppers with 8. Enjoy the week to come.

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